John Herrman and Kellen Browning: Are We in the Metaverse Yet?

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John Herrman and Kellen Browning: Are We in the Metaverse Yet?
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11/07/2021 – 10:32

John Herrman and Kellen Browning: Are We in the Metaverse Yet?
Crypto people say they’re building it. Gamers might already be living in it. The art world is cashing in on it. Web veterans are trying to save it. But what is it?
        
The biggest ideas in tech often lurch into the lexicon before they are truly coherent. Jargon appears out of nowhere, underexplained and overused: the internet of things, the sharing economy, the cloud.
In some rare cases, the terminology sticks. A lot of people talk a lot about a lot of loosely related things, and then those things merge into a single semi-comprehensible thing. Then we live our lives within that thing forever. Remember hearing about “the internet”? Get ready for “the metaverse.”
The term comes from digital antiquity: Coined by the writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel, “Snow Crash,” then reimagined as the Oasis in the Ernest Cline novel “Ready Player One,” it refers to a fully realized digital world that exists beyond the analog one in which we live.
In fiction, a utopian metaverse may be portrayed as a new frontier where social norms and value systems can be written anew, freed from cultural and economic sclerosis. But more often metaverses are a bit dystopian — virtual refuges from a fallen world.

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